Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Field trips

One of the fun things that our homeschooling group has done for the past six months is to attend field trips. We have gone on 4 field trips I think and my friend Lee-Anne gave me some pictures from the last two.

Kids visiting a nearby farm.

Kids very interested in learning about putting print on t-shirts (or pretty much anything else!).

A wonderful group...we will miss them all!

The last week

Today was the first day of our last week here in Lilongwe. I had Bible Study this morning. The first time I attended that bible study was just a few days after we arrived in Malawi; we were staying at Lee-Anne's house and she took me with her.

Later on in the afternoon we went to our last soccer class. There were only 7 kids there today but I think that they had lots of fun. They had a little soccer game and it was a tie score, which is a great way to end, if you ask me (and especially when Anna is on one team and J and J on the other).

Tomorrow we will have a cleaning/packing day all day long since our dentist appointment was moved to Thursday morning. Then Wednesday night the kids will go to their last youth group meeting. Thursday afternoon we have our last homeschooling group meeting. There are eye appointments for Friday morning and on Saturday I will go to my last bible study at Anita's house (our pastor's wife). Then Sunday (last church service and Kaleb's last time to play guitar during the worship service) and Monday (last volleyball for Kaleb) and then Tuesday we leave.

Time is passing! It is hard to believe that next week at this time we will be in Kabwe (if the trip goes smoothly).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Jon in action

Soccer class

Joshua trying to take the ball away from Anna

Every Tuesday we have Soccer Day...the best day of the year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No Fair!

You know, when you are a missionary you get really used to saying goodbye. It doesn't get easier really; but you do get more used to it. I have tried to have a sort of hard shell around my heart sometimes so I don't keep leaving pieces of it laying around in the places we leave.

One of the hardest goodbyes in our recent history was saying goodbye in Brazil. We didn't know that we weren't returning when we left on our furlough but it was still so hard to leave our dear, dear friends there. When we knew we weren't going back and Joel and I returned to get our things and say goodbye my friends and I decided that there would be no tears this time. I just polished of my old "heart shell" and was able to say goodbye without crying...until the car pulled out of sight of the seminary...I just broke down and couldn't stop the sobs from shaking me.

Another really painful goodbye for our family was saying goodbye to my family when we left the US to come to Malawi last year. It is always hard to say goodbye to my family...whether we are leaving the US, or they have visited us and we are dropping them off at the airport. But this time was of course especially hard because not only were we leaving all of our old time family people like Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Jamie, but a very special new person in our lives...little Michael who entered our family and our hearts during our last furlough. It has been a year and we know that Michael is already a whole year older, but we all get excited when new photos are sent or we hear news of what Michael is doing or saying now. And to be honest, after spending a year and a half living with my sister my kids are having a hard time adjusting to life without their fun Aunt Jamie. Alissa is kicking herself that she didn't discover her love of math until after we left and now she is missing out on some fun math discussions with her aunt that she is never going to have with her poor math challenged mom. And we are really sad that we missed all the fun summer things with Grandma and Grandpa...like garden planting and the big corn freezing day!

Well, all that to say, it just isn't fair that after only one year here in Malawi we have to say goodbye again already. Who would have ever guessed that we could have made such great friends in such a short time. It has never happened to us before so quickly! Now we have just 3 more weeks before we leave Lilongwe to move to Zambia and it is getting hard to think about. Tonight Joshua and Jonathan were pretty quiet when they realized that they only have 2 more soccer classes before we leave. While they love playing soccer, it is mostly the fun of being with their friends that they enjoy most on Tuesdays (their favorite day of the year, they tell me). I am going to miss Tuesdays too! First my bible study with some great ladies who have been so friendly to me over the past year and then soccer class where the moms of the kids enjoy our talking and walking time as much as the kids enjoy their soccer I think! I am going to miss that fellowship a lot!

As we count down to the date of our departure I know that I will make sure the hard shell around my heart is firmly in place again. I hate goodbyes!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dirty feet!

We have been using our phone to use the internet but for some reason it has been so unpredictable as far as price (once it cost more than a dollar just to open up the juno page...my phone ran out of units before I could see if I had any mail or not) lately. It was awful when we had people here who wanted to check their mail...I would have a $10 card put into my phone and they would use it to check mail once, call to check their flights and then the next day when wanting to check their mail the phone would run out of time already! So, yesterday Joel hooked up the old system that we used for getting onto the internet. It is a prepaid card and we can use it for a month now without worrying. We might only get it during the evening hours during the week (we'll see how it works) since it was cheaper; at least yesterday and today (the weekend) it has been on all the time. We have found that hooking it up to the new laptop has increased the speed so much; we thought the connection was slow (ok, the connection IS slow...but not as slow as we thought) but it is just our computer that was slow. So, things are better than they were! All that to say, did you notice that this is my 2nd blog today! Since I am connected all the time easily and the pages load faster, it is a lot easier to post than it has been!

Ok, what I wanted to say was, just a minute ago I noticed Joshua and Jonathan playing with their favorite toy (the collection of pop bottle tops that the kids have been keeping since we lived in Brazil). They have them all spread out in the school room (which is now a packing room since we are moving to Zambia in about 3 weeks) making armies or something. Anyways, I noticed Joshua's dirty feet. I am also doing laundry today and I happened to just notice all of Joshua's socks that he leaves laying around...the socks that he wore to church were laying in the hall right outside the schoolroom.

Isn't it funny how life moves on, people grow up and change and we sometimes don't even notice it? Well, I wanted to acknowledge that Joshua is growing up. It wasn't that long ago that Joshua didn't like people seeing his little feet. This started long ago...I don't know why; in Brazil he would want to wear socks with his sandles. He would take his socks off right at the swimming pool in Michigan and put them on the second he got out of the pool. We had to force him to sleep without his socks, telling him that his feet really need to air out at night. His feet always looked like feet that had been in water too long. But always pretty clean. :-)

Well, one of the things that we didn't pack much of when we came here was socks for the boys. I know that I bought socks for them before we came; but somehow I put them in our storage stuff instead of our packing stuff. So, Joshua and Jonathan had about 2 pair of socks between them. That didn't matter to Jonathan because he hates socks and only wears them during soccer class on Tuesdays. I had to buy each of the boys a pair of socks for soccer to keep up for just that day to make sure they had clean socks for that day since they had so few socks. This was hard on Joshua because, as I said, he loves wearing his socks. There were many days that this was a big struggle and at times I remember wondering if he would ever just get over this strange dislike of people seeing his feet. (I mean, he would walk from his shower to his bedroom to get his clothes in front of us without any shyness, as long as he had his socks on!)

Well, somewhere in the past six months that has ended for him. I didn't even realize it. He still wears his tennis shoes when we go out (vs. Jon who wears his sandles or slip on shoes) and wears socks with them. But as soon as he gets home he tears off those shoes and socks (and leaves them in the hallway in front of the schoolroom) and goes barefoot. He plays outside all the time with no shoes...in fact, I think he only puts his shoes on when we are actually leaving home for church or soccer or something. And now he has dirty little feet, just like a normal seven year old boy. :-) That makes me so happy!

A scary movie

I have never enjoyed scary movies. In fact, in Brazil when Joel and I would go to see a movie with friends I would get laughed at quite a bit for keeping my eyes covered most of the time. While this helps with all but the music (which is almost worse that what is on the screen) it does have a downside. The problem came when, in the back of my mind, I remembered watching a movie that seemed really funny with maybe a few tense parts. But such a funny movie couldn't be that scary...hmmm...why didn't I remember more about this movie? Anyways, I started to think it was a good movie for the older kids to watch with me. I decided to watch it again last night while Joel was out walking before I would show it to the kids. Well, it was really scary! Very scary and I could barely enjoy the funny parts! I finally just started fast forwarding through the scary parts (can't do that when Joel is watching a movie with me) with the intention of stopping and watching the funny parts and then seeing what happened by the end of the movie. Well, the next thing I knew the whole movie was done and I hadn't stopped fast forwarding at all! I hadn't enjoyed very many funny parts but I now was quite scared and Joel was out walking! And, worse of all, I had to go outside to feed Jasper and the movie had quite a few strange scary dog scenes.

Sigh. While I know that I won't let the kids see this movie I can't always decide on a movie based on how scary it is to me. I wouldn't even consider letting the kids see the Lord of the Rings movies because I watched a few moments once in Brazil and it scared me a lot! There were big bird things flying around and people running away and screaming...that was enough for me! However, once Joel decided that the kids would enjoy the movies and they watched them I found out that they didn't find them scary at all! It probably helped that they had read the books already. Once we got to Malawi they wanted (forced) me to watch the movies with them and I found that I really did enjoy them! (It helps to have a sympathetic child whispering what is going to happen before it does even though that annoys Kaleb to no end.)

Well, now that it is morning and the sun is shining through the windows it seems quite silly that I was scared last night!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


We are nearing the end of our 4th week of school. It has been a different year for me as I am not combining children together but teaching 4 grades. I remember what a big deal it was for me when I started teaching 2 grades...it just seemed like I couldn't get everything done in a day. Now I am wondering...What was I thinking then? Our last years I have combined kids because we were either packing up from life in Brazil, traveling around the US visiting churches or getting settled in Malawi. Then I realized that this method wasn't doing anybody any good so I had to make a new plan and, like I mentioned, we are in week 4 of that new plan.

Kaleb is in 9th grade and he actually does a lot of his work alone. Because of my own bad planning he is doing two science classes this year, Biology and Physical Science and I read that with him each day. He is studying The History of God's Kindgom and he does his history and Bible reading by himself and then on Friday has a big discussion day with Joel about it. They both love it and Joel has been very impressed with the books that were included in this Sonlight Core.

Andrew and Alissa are in 7th grade and are studying World History. We are actually (because I can't do anything the easy way this year) trying to get two years done in one year (World History I and World History II) so we have a lot of reading; but so far we are really loving it. They are doing General Science which will lead them into doing Physical Science next year so they won't have to do two in one year like Kaleb is doing.

Anna is in 5th grade and is studying American History. She is really surprising me as I see that she is a lot like her older sister (who is so self motivated and gets the job done!) when it comes to schoolwork. Anna likes to have a list at the beginning of the day and not only will she get her own work done, she will help me with Jonathan and Joshua's memory verse and Bible reading if I am running behind!

Joshua and Jonathan are in 2nd grade this year and they are studying World History. Again we are really enjoying the books and it is fun to see how their books bring up subjects that we cover more fully in Andrew and Alissa's year. They are using math-u-see for math and I really enjoy it; it is new for us. They are both coming along so well in reading.

We try to start our day by 7:15 when we all meet together and say our verses. The younger 5 children are learning a chapter each that they will be ready to tell us by week 6 of school and Kaleb is learning lots of individual verses that go along with his Bible lessons. Then we sing a song that will wake us up if everybody isn't wide awake and then I meet with the kids individually to tell them what to do that morning. When everybody is busy with math or workbooks or writing I start with Jonathan and Joshua in math, handwritting and reading. It seems to be a good method so far even though so often by the end of the day I feel like I should have fit more in!

Well, speaking of school, it is 7:05 and I have to make sure Kaleb and Andrew are awake and ready to go!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We have been busy at school for the past 2 ½ weeks. I am teaching 4 grades this year so our days are very full, trying to fit everything in. We wake up early and sometimes school lasts until time to get supper ready. It is a lot of work but so rewarding and fun!

Well, Tuesdays are my busy day. The big kids all get their schoolwork given to them in the morning and Joshua and Jonathan have most of the day off. I leave for bible study around 9:30 and don’t get home until almost noon. Then our afternoons are spent at soccer class. Yesterday when I got home at lunchtime I found the whole house in an uproar! Ernest (our gardener) had found a wounded baby bird and kindly (argh) gave it to the children to care for. By the time I got home the kids had a nest all made up for the bird in an old plastic ice cream container and were giving it mushed up fruit and water out of a little eye dropper that they found in one of our science experiment kits.

Now, we do have some experience with injured baby birds. Unfortunately, we have never had one that has actually lasted the first night. I didn’t have very high hopes for “Hubert”. Hubert, by the way, is the name Andrew had picked out for Jamie to name Michael but she told him that she would feel awful taking away his favorite name, so she let him keep it for his own future children. (Wasn’t that nice of her?) So, now we have an injured baby bird with a special name. The kids were starting to feel invested in this bird. He was scared of them at first but by the time I got home from bible study he would sit on their hands and eat fruit off their fingers.

There was much discussion about how to keep Hubert warm last night. The ideas that the children came up with might have burned down the entire house, so we decided to just risk having him in his box in the girls’ closet with the door closed. I guess that the night was filled with children getting up and checking Hubert to make sure he was ok. Anna and Alissa were awake by 5:00am with him, feeding him and giving him water.

Well, for the past two days school has been a little bit halfhearted on the side of the kids. They are so busy feeding Hubert, taking him for walks near the other birds (so he can hear them chirping) and letting him walk around in the sun. It was funny to see him when they took him over to one certain part of the yard near a tree. He would start to chirp like crazy and we would hear chirping just like his; almost like he was talking to another bird! This afternoon the kids put him down by that tree and left him alone. They started noticing that bigger birds would fly over to him and feed him! They realized that there were two birds who would do this. They would fly over to Jasper’s food bowl, get some bits of food or water, and then fly back over and feed Hubert! We (ok, I’ll admit that by this time I was as invested as the kids!) all stood at the window watching for about 30 minutes. Then Hubert’s mom started leading him to the gate and before we knew it she had led him right under our gate and out into the road! We couldn’t control the dogs in the street so Kaleb ran and rescued Hubert and placed him closer to Jasper’s food area. After about 10 minutes or so his mom and dad found him again and led him over to a bush next to our yard wall. He hopped over there and has been there ever since. We aren’t exactly sure what to do now. I think their nest is outside our gate, but he can’t fly. We were torn whether we should bring Hubert inside for the night to keep him safe from Jasper (who keeps his distance when we are around but we aren’t sure what he will do tonight) or if we should just leave him with his folks. I think we will end up leaving him with his parents to take care of him. As attached as we are to Hubert, it seems like his best chances of having a life as a wild bird is to be with other birds and not getting used to having people care for him.

I have to say, I am very happy that we saw that his mom found him and fed him so we could hand his care back to her. The children were talking about building him a cage and keeping him as a pet forever!